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Chapter Ten: Natalia

I arrived home to find Mark watching T.V., Melinda reading a magazine at the kitchen table, and my mom washing a massive pile of dishes on the counter. "I think the TWA found me."

Now, this wasn't the first time I came home crying wolf. I'd been doing it off and on since I started school when I was six. My mom immediately stopped what she was doing and so did Melinda. They were the perfect people to help me in this situation. They didn't take chances, but they also didn't jump to any conclusions without hearing all the facts first. They'd be able to figure out what I'm supposed to do tomorrow.

"What happened?" asked my mom calmly.

I projected the memory of the TWA officer to my mom and Melinda in order to provide them all the details. I couldn't afford to leave anything out and I was bound to mess up verbalizing what happened.

"This time is different. I think they know it's me but for some reason they want me to join willingly. What do I do?"

My mom grew unnaturally pale. Melinda pushed her chair back and started checking all of the windows and doors for breaches, although I would've sensed if there were any. "Is there anything you did to make them suspect you?" I looked away from my mom. I couldn't look her in the eye. "Natalia?"

I licked my lips. "The only thing I can think of is..." I projected the event at the mall to my mom and Melinda. Melinda gasped and my mom was on the brink of tears. "No one was there and I erased all the evidence."

There was no color present in my mom's face, which was even scarier than it being bright red. "Natalia, we have warned you over and over again about using your powers. I'm disappointed in you."

I realized Mark turned the volume down on the T.V. I bet he was enjoying this, even though he knew none of the details. "What do I do? She's coming back tomorrow." My eyes were stinging now with unshed tears.

My mom's face turned bright red; at least there was some color in her face. "Why don't you wipe her mind too? One more mistake can't hurt at this point!" My mom stormed out of the room.

Tears were pouring down my cheeks and I was unable to stop them. "Just act like a human tomorrow," said Melinda before following my mom out. I could see the disappointment on her face too.

"Don't take it personally. Your mom's just upset," chimed Mark as if I needed his input too.

I ran upstairs, barely seeing the steps as I did. I threw myself onto my bed, crying my eyes out until they were as dry as a desert. I was stupid to put my entire family at risk because of an idiotic vendetta. I fell asleep after a new batch of tears filled my eyes. Sleep must've taken pity on me because I didn't dream or wake up until I had to go to school the next day.

I walked to school with Alex, staying quiet for most of the way. Alex, being an amazing friend, didn't push me to speak. Instead, he filled the awkward silence himself. He could tell my head was reeling and was trying to relieve some of the tension. It was sweet but not helpful.

I headed to my locker alone to find Todd leaning patiently against his own. "Natalia." I opened my locker to grab my textbooks. I wasn't in the mood to deal with him or anyone at this point. "What was wrong with you yesterday?"

I grabbed one or two textbooks, expecting I wouldn't make it past first or second period if I was lucky. However, it was extremely possible I wouldn't be making it to any of my classes today. "I hadn't experienced a Telepath's power like that. I was in shock."

Todd rested his hand on my forearm. "If there is anything you want to say, you can tell me."

I slammed my locker closed. "I have nothing to say to a future TWA trainee." I power walked to class, wanting the day to be over with already. Perhaps the Storm Officer would just put an end to my misery right here.

When I walked into class, everyone was on edge like me. The half-telepath was especially nervous as she trembled in her seat.

I put my things down and walked over to her. "How are you doing?"

The girl looked up at me. "You're dating that Telepath, right?"

I shook my head and smiled. "We're just friends."

The girl was visibly more nervous than the rest of the humans in my class, however no one matched my inner turmoil. "I'm scared. What if Todd was being nice yesterday?"

The girl's eyes grew shiny and I couldn't handle her crying. I was barely holding it together myself. Her breakdown was sure to bring the tears to my eyes. "Don't cry. You have nothing to worry about. You're the safest one in this room."

The girl sniffled. She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her jacket. "Really?"

I nodded. "Todd told me personally."

The girl calmed down drastically. "I've always been scared I was secretly one of them. I've always know I was different from everyone. I've had nightmares where the TWA come for me while I'm sleeping."

I put an arm around her shoulder. I think everyone had those nightmares. "You're nothing like the Telepaths."

The girl smiled for the first time in over a day. "Thanks, Natalia." I only wished I knew her name.

I squeezed her shoulders one last time before taking my seat a few rows back. I was having my own dilemma and I needed to figure it out quickly. Melinda told me to act human but was that truly the best option for me?

Death was on the list of punishments but that wasn't the exclusive punishment for not coming clean when the Storm Telepath returned. Hell, that was the easiest punishment option offered. I was more worried about the torture. Torture wasn't pretty at the hands of Telepaths. Having control over the elements made the torturers more vicious than the humans they made documentaries about before the war. I would rather be tortured at the hands of the most creative human than the weakest Telepath. Plus, being a Molecular wasn't an advantage when it came to torture. It only allowed for the torture to last longer.

Todd walked in and took his seat beside me. "Natalia, I know something's wrong. Please talk to me."

I glanced at Todd. His shaggy blonde hair was messier than usual. His eyes were like mini storm clouds, expressing the inner turmoil he was enduring. Large purple rings laid under his puffy eyes as if he hadn't slept one bit the night before. He looked emotionally unstable and that worried me.

I averted my eyes. "I wish I could, but I can't."

Todd stood up, throwing his desk forward. The girl in front of him jumped out of her seat just in time to avoid being crushed. She was lucky she was on edge. If she'd been relaxed, she would've been visiting the hospital.

"I can't help you if you don't talk to me. I want to help you, Natalia."

I turned away from him quickly. "I don't need your help."

The bell rang and the teacher appeared inside the classroom. He quickly took roll before exchanging the briefest of looks with Todd. The teacher scurried to his seat and strapped himself down. He looked eerily calm as he did so.

Todd walked to the front of the classroom with an air of authority all TWA officers mastered. "The TWA officer wanted to give the Telepath one last chance to surrender peacefully. She will be back and I have no idea what will be in store for all of you. I fought for this peaceful resolution, but if you don't give yourself up now, you will be at her mercy."

Everyone looked around. A lump formed in my throat as Todd's eyes hit mine before moving to another set. If I gave myself up, I would spare my class from whatever the woman had planned for us. I was a Molecular, I could handle her better than the humans and half-telepath. But if I gave myself up, what would the TWA do to me and my family? I didn't surrender myself the first day the lady came, which had to come with its own set of consequences. If I gave myself up, I might be struck down immediately, a threat eliminated from the world.

My self-preservation instinct won the battle raging in my mind. I decided that keeping my mouth shut was the best option out there. It gave me and my family a fighting chance to stay alive.

Todd sighed. "Okay. Have it your way. I can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves."

Todd left the trailer. I felt it lurch upward and spin around and around at speeds faster than a car; I almost hurled. The trailer abruptly stopped, causing the desks to slide into each other. I was able to stop mine from smacking into the human next to me, but Todd's empty, overturned desk almost smashed my fingers.

The lady appeared at the window like she did yesterday. The frequency screeched inside the classroom. I instantly covered my ears, put my head down, and sound proofed my area. The half-telepath, once again, perked up at the sound. What made half-telepaths so different from humans and Telepaths was beyond my knowledge. Maybe the DNA mix between humans and Telepath softened the blow of the frequency. If so, I was wanting that superpower.

Everything stopped. The trailer hit the ground with a loud thud, causing the desks to bounce off the floor. I looked to the window to see the lady was gone. Suddenly, she entered the trailer with her heavy combat boots pounding against the floor. "Telepath, you left the TWA no choice. We're retrieving leverage against you as I speak. I hope you didn't have anyone you cared for too deeply." She left the trailer just as quickly as she entered.

I covered my mouth and raised my hand. My stomach was churning at the thought of the leverage they were gathering. "Mr. Patterson, can I go to the nurse? I'm not feeling good." I churned the stomachs of a few random kids, who mimicked my actions.

Mr. Patterson nodded and designated a girl named Courtney to take us to the nurse. Two of the kids vomited on the short walk from the trailer to the main building. I felt sorry I brought this upon them, but I needed a believable story to get out of the classroom. My family was in trouble. Anyone would understand my decision if their family was in trouble with the TWA.

I raised my body temperature during our short walk down the hall. It was a sure fire way to get sent home by the nurse. I made sure my temperature was a solid 101 degrees Fahrenheit so the nurse had no other option but to send me home.

We stepped into the empty nurse's room. Courtney informed the nurse about the Telepath incident in the trailer stating that we were probably suffering from motion sickness. The nurse checked all of our temperatures as a precaution. I was the only one with a fever, obviously.

The nurse dismissed me from school with a packet of crackers to eat on my way home. I thanked her and walked off campus before making a run for my home.

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